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Homework for My “Speechie” Parents

As a speech language pathologist it is key that I engage the family in the therapy process.  In order to best help a child, the family must understand why I am doing what I am doing with their child and how it will help them.  And in order for therapy to be most effective, parents must follow through with my tips and suggestions when playing/interacting with their child at home.  This is called generalization.  Without generalization of new skills my efforts in therapy are ineffective and pointless.

 

When I worked in the school system as an elementary school SLP the children on my caseload had a speech homework folder.  When they completed their weekly homework and returned it to me, they received a sticker.  After 5 stickers were earned, they received the “honor” of visiting my treasure chest.  (You know one of those glorified cardboard boxes with dollar store plastic treasures inside…kids eat that stuff up!)  This proved to be the most effective way of informing the parents of what we were working on in therapy and encouraged them to work with their child at home on specific skills.  Now that I work as an early intervention SLP and am in the homes of the children I serve I rely heavily on parents just observing what I do with their child and trust that they will then work with their children in similar ways when I am not there.  Some parents do this…others find it hard.  Either they don’t recognize what I am doing as different or helpful for their child or they don’t understand why it may be helping. Sometimes I don’t do a good enough job explaining what I want them to do when I’m gone and sometimes they are unable to follow through because life just gets too crazy.  At times, I find myself wondering, what can I do or suggest that might make it easier for them to support the language development of their little ones?

 

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Introducing My Toddler Talks!   This is an easy to use book of “homework” focusing on speech and language development for parents. I recently had the privilege of reading this book when I received it from author Kim Scanlon, MA CCC/SLP.  Kim wrote this book for parents of all toddlers (developing typically and atypically) who want to encourage their child’s language development.  My Toddler Talks teaches parents how to “model and elicit language in a fun, straightforward and practical manner…”  The book highlights 25 play routines using toys found in most homes (play doh, stickers, etc.) and expands those routines by scripting language between the parent and toddler.  Often parents want to play more purposefully with their child but don’t know how.  This book gets you there.  Kim helps you model language that is developmentally appropriate for you child’s age and then gives you tips on how to elicit more language from them.  Often toddlers become frustrated when they can’t verbalize their desires. My Toddler Talks helps to diffuse that frustration by fostering earlier language development through play…the best way a child learns!  So for the parent who wants to do more, wants some “homework” to do with their toddler, My Toddler Talks is the answer.  It gets down to the old school version of child development:  PLAY!  No television, iPad, iPhone, computer or batteries required!  Thank you Kim for helping parents get back to basics of PLAY and helping them open up a world of possibility through communication with their child!  PLAY builds brains…and fantastic communication skills!

 

I love recommending My Toddler Talks as a resource for  the families I work with.  When I am not there, they can easily flip to a play routine in the book and know that they are benefiting their child’s language development while also having fun with them.  My Toddler Talks is the home based version of the homework folder I used to send home with my elementary students, but for toddlers.  I can site specific play routines that might be most beneficial for the parent and they will have their book to refer to and carry out the “homework” during the week.  It serves as  way to further engage parents in being the best early teachers of their children and one thing I know for sure as an SLP, when parents are engaged regularly with their children in play, rich with language, children become communicators themselves!

 

Check out My Toddler Talks today and start communicating with the toddler in your life!

 

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Find great tips on speech and language development on the My Toddler Talks website:  http://www.mytoddlertalks.com/.  You can also follow Kim on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest.

Why Every Toddler’s a Genius!

 

It’s like magic…all of a sudden something clicks inside their little minds and they are the smartest baby you know!  Almost overnight these adorable, chubby cheeked, gap-toothed angels are able to demonstrate they understand what you are saying by following a simple direction, answering a yes/no question or imitating your gestures.  They show you they understand associations and daily happenings by going to the bathroom when you say they need a bath or going to the back door when you say it’s time for daddy (or mommy) to get home from work.  And every (proud) parent begins to wonder if they are raising a toddler genius!

My third child is 15 months old and the other day I caught myself bragging to Nicole about how smart she is.  Lately she goes to the closet to get her shoes when she hears me say we are leaving and she answers yes/no questions pretty accurately.  But as I heard my proud parent boasting, I remembered I thought her brother and sister were “sooooo smart” at this age too!!!  So why was that?  I mean, I do believe my kids are smart, but no smarter than any one else’s children, especially at the tender age of 15 months.  And I can’t count how many times I have heard a parent bragging on the early emerging genius they call their toddler.  So why is it that we ALL think we are raising little Einsteins at this age???  What’s the explanation behind it?

The foundation or building block of communication is receptive language, or a child’s ability to understand spoken language.  Their whole (little) lives they have been absorbing every thing you say, every word on each page you read and observing your actions as you navigate their daily routines.  These multi-sensory experiences (seeing, hearing, smelling, touching and sometimes tasting) coupled with the repetition of your words and actions help them to understand what words mean.  Also when you speak to them and accompany your words with gestures (like pointing to what you want them to get or nodding your head yes and no), you increase their comprehension.  After many months of your tireless effort to keep their routines consistent and provide them with stimulation, all while keeping them happy and entertained, you are rewarded!  You finally realize the fruits of your labor!!!  They are now mobile enough to act upon what you have been teaching them for the past 12-18 months!  So relish in this stage, be PROUD of the tiny genius you have created!  And go ahead and brag…you deserve the accolades for raising baby Einstein!

If you would like to understand more about child development and get tips on how to help your child grow and develop during the toddler years check out 1-2-3 Just Play With Me.  It is jam packed with purposeful play ideas to engage your child and help you appreciate the magic of development during the first 3 years of your baby’s life.  Embrace the tiny miracle of your child!  Hug and kiss your baby(s) today 🙂

FAQ #4: Is my toddler hyper…does he have an attention problem?

Sunshine…fresh air…going for a walk…playing on the playground…these are all signs of Spring, and I’m not sure who’s happier to see them come, me or my kids!
Yesterday my kids and I spent two hours playing at the playground.  It was exactly what we all needed!  My kids, like many other children, thrive on physical activity.  When they get enough of it they eat, sleep and behave better.  When my oldest was younger, people who saw her out in public (climbing the shelves at the grocery store or not sitting still in the shopping cart) would awkwardly comment, “Wow, she’s an active little girl!”  It was their nice way of saying they thought she was hyper!
However, you can’t really call a toddler “hyper”.  They are supposed to be up moving around all the time, exploring their environment, seeking out that physical activity that they enjoy most.  They may seem “hyper” to us but only because we can’t keep up with them.  And it’s okay if they don’t sit for quiet activities; reading a book, coloring, doing a puzzle.  At the active toddler stage those types of activities may not peak their interest and they may need some help from you to enjoy them.
Below are some ideas to keep your child active and help them quiet down when they need to:
 1.  Don’t stress if they won’t sit for the entire 30 minutes of story time.  I was one of those moms, soooo embarrassed that my 18 month old wouldn’t sit in my lap for the songs, rhymes and stories.  If you can relate to this scenario, slowly build up to the 30 minutes.  Join story time for 10-15 minutes, then step outside to let your child have a little break.  Also, don’t be stressed if they are up and moving around the room.
     
       2.  Take advantage of getting outside.  Playing ball, riding bikes, letting them out of the stroller to walk beside of you are all great ways to catch some fresh air and burn some energy.
L     3.  Limit the amount of time your child spends watching television.  The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no television before the age of 2 and only 1-2 hours for 2 years and older.  Try not to use the television as a babysitter, watch TV with your child and talk to them about what they see and hear on the program.  My kids LOVE TV and that is why I feel I have to limit it.  If the TV is on, they completely tune me out.  The glazed look they get in their eyes while watching scares me a little!  Why limit television?  When kids watch TV all the time they crave that fast moving change of scenery and flashing lights.  So when the TV is off they try to recreate those scenes by running around and have little interest in attending to other activities.  Their brains get used to a world that the TV creates and then they only want that world around them:  bright, fast moving, constantly changing.
        4.  If your child has difficulty sitting and attending to an activity, try placing them in their high chair.  This is a great place to do play doh, color or introduce puzzles.
        5.  And lastly, if your little one just wants to furiously turn the pages when you are trying to read a book, try reading during snack time.  You can also offer them something to hold in their hand while you read, like a squishy ball.  Make the story more interesting to your child by changing your voice or using exaggerated movements to go along with the story.  Read a book that allows your child to participate in the story like a lift-a-flap, touch and feel or pop up book.